Keep your eyes open!...


August 31, 2011 

(Act 19:17-18) And this became known to all the Jews and the Gentiles that dwelt a Ephesus. And fear fell on them all: and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many of them that believed came, confessing and declaring their deeds

NCREGISTER: Vatican Publishes Confession and Spiritual Direction Manual for Priests

The Vatican has published an aid for confessors and spiritual directors, reflecting an urgent need for both priests and the faithful to rediscover the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Published by the Congregation for the Clergy, "The Priest, Minister of Divine Mercy — An Aid for Confessors and Spiritual Directors" is essentially a manual on how to be good confessors.

The 70 page document is a fruit of the Year for Priests during which the Holy Father urged priests to return to the confessional, both to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation but also as a place where the priest should "dwell" more often.


HEADLINE: Priest: I'll go to jail rather than bow to law on revealing confession

TRACT LINK: Don't Be Fearful of Confession! by the late Father Kilian McGowan, C.P.

VIA OLRLConfession

"Confess your sins one to another."-St.  James 5;16. 

Confession is a great remedy for the soul.  It purifies it through the words of absolution, enlightens it through the good counsel received, strengthens it by the great graces received, humbles it by acknowledging to another man that we are sinners and gives peace to the soul being reconciled to God.  We didn't care to commit the sin, but now we are ashamed to confess it.  "God resists the proud but giveth grace to the humble."

Confession has been in the Church from the beginning.  The second Sunday after Easter Our Lord appeared to the Apostles and gave them His mission to carry on.

He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.
(John 20:21-23)

Tangible evidence of this doctrine was brought forth in Rome when, in 1911, archaeologists unearthed a stone slab which read: "Here lies Blessed Peter, who absolved us, the elect, from sins confessed."

A beautiful story -- St Francis and the sinful woman:

St.  Francis de Sales was hearing confessions in his church at Annecy. Among other penitents who went to him was a woman who had led a very bad life, but who, touched by God's grace, made a good and sincere confession of all the evil she had done.  St.  Francis blessed God for her conversion and felt his soul full of happiness in giving her absolution.  When she received it she said to him: "My father, what do you think of me now since you have heard of all the crimes I have been guilty of?" "My child," he answered, "I now look upon you as a saint; let people say and think what they like, they may judge you as the Pharisee judged Mary Magdalen after her conversion, but you know what Jesus Christ thought of her and how he judged her.  Your past life now has no longer any existence.  I weep tears of joy because of your resurrection from the grave of sin to a life of grace.  The penitent was not only consoled by these words of St.  Francis, but when the devil came to try to make her fall into despair by thinking of her past iniquities, they enabled her to drive the temptation away.  -His Life: Jan.29, Stories from the Catechist.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto Thine

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 30- "Concerning the Supreme Trinity Among the Virtues"

7. Love, by reason of its nature, is resemblance to God, as far as that is possible for mortals; in its activity it is inebriation of the soul; and by its distinctive property it is a fountain of faith, an abyss of patience, a sea of humility.

August 29, 2011

(Rom 8:35-37) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 


Biloxi church says Katrina showed us our blessings
Group spends millions on disaster aid

EXCERPT: Vignettes from Irene's march up the East Coast

Parishioners of Holy Family Catholic Church sang a hymn on Sunday that assumed a new resonance the day after Hurricane Irene whipped through the area: "God will protect us from darkness and death," goes a line in "Rain Down."

"Across the street from us, a big tree came down, but it just fell right between the houses," parishioner Jeffrey Hale said.  "No damage.  It's the kind of thing that makes you want to come to church and give thanks."

Holy Family is the only Catholic parish for miles.  The church draws its members from all over the Albemarle Sound, and many drive 30 minutes or more for services.  About 80 people gathered for Mass on Sunday, less than a third of the usual crowd.

"Are we having Mass?  Is the pope Catholic?" the Rev.  James Buchholz told a carload of parishioners that pulled up to the church to ask if services were still on.

Buchholz also celebrated Mass Saturday evening at Holy Family as Irene was passing through the area.

"When you see the power of God in the kind of wind and rain we had yesterday, you realize there are many things to be thankful for," he said in an interview.

Like much of surrounding Elizabeth City, Holy Family largely escaped damage.  A few leaks in the roof and a parking lot covered by leaves and twigs were about the extent of it.  The sound system wasn't working, but the voices of the worshippers rang out in the building as they sang "Hallelujah" and recited a prayer improvised by Buchholz: "Lord, for those who were caught in inclement weather, for those who made it through and for those having rough times today, we pray.  Lord, hear our prayer."

"This wasn't a hurricane.  This was more like a Nor'Easter," said Bill Hogue, 82, a retired steelworker from Pittsburgh who's lived in the area for 18 years.  Hogue said the winds knocked over some pillars below a porch at his home, but otherwise the damage was minimal.

Hogue's daughter had repeatedly asked her father, a Korean War veteran, to leave North Carolina ahead of Irene and join her in Virginia.  Hogue shook his head at the idea.

"Why?  So I can be stuck on 95 with all the other idiots?" he said.  "I've got brick walls and shatterproof windows.  I'm fine here."

VIA  Jim Bramlett: Jesus redirects Hurricane Irene!

This past Friday, August 26, 2011, Hurricane Irene was heading directly for my house.  We were 3-4 states away, but the cone projection chart put out by the National Weather Service had my address right in the center of the storm's path.  It was only about 24 hours from us.

I remembered by childhood hero, Superman, and my new super hero, and exclaimed, "This is a job for Jesus."

Suddenly, I remembered Jesus' words, "He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also" (John 14:12).

Then I remembered that Jesus had calmed a storm by speaking to it.  And I remembered that He said if we have faith we could speak to a mountain and it would be removed (Mark 11:23).  He did not say to pray that the mountain would be removed, but to speak to it, just as He spoke to the fig tree (Mark 11:14).

So using Jesus as an example, and His words as my authority, I decided to speak to Irene.  In the name of Jesus, I commanded Irene to move to the east, away from our neighborhood.

I contacted members of our Friday night Bible study and asked them to do the same.  They did.

I asked our home church in Florida (that we attend via Skype) to do the same.  They did.

After that, even though Irene continued to bear down upon us, I had a great peace.  A pervasive peace.  We did not even purchase supplies.

The next day, Irene was getting closer and closer, and I still had a great peace.  Finally, Irene was on the outskirts of our metropolitan area, still heading for my house.  I took a nap.

A TV announcer suddenly came on and said that Irene was veering off to the north-northeast.  I knew that was Jesus!  This slight directional change caused the brunt of the storm to miss us, Thank you, Jesus!  Your Word works!

Bottom line: We got some strong breezes but no hurricane-force wind.  We got light rains, but no problem.  We needed rain anyhow, and it helped put out a swamp fire miles away that had given us so much smoke for days.

Most of our area lost electrical power, including nearby friends and relatives.  But we did not lose power.  Our next-door neighbor lost a big tree.  We lost nothing.  This is odd.  In a period of just one week, this area of the nation got a rare earthquake, the worst in over 100 years, then an unusual hurricane, both experienced all up and down the east coast.  Hello!  Is there another message here?  The main message I got is that Jesus rose from the dead, is still alive, well, and faithful to His Word!

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 30- "Concerning the Supreme Trinity Among the Virtues"

6. God is love. so he who wishes to define this tries with bleary eyes to measure the sand in the ocean.

August 25, 2011


(Rom 8:24-25) For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen is not hope. For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, we wait for it with patience.

POPE JOHN PAUL II: "We are certainly not seduced by the naive expectation that, faced with the great challenges of our time, we shall find some magic formula. No, we shall not be saved by a formula but by a Person, and the assurance which he gives us: I am with you!" 

ADDRESS: So That the World May Know New Hope by Cardinal Raymond L. Burke

REALCATHOLICTV: Belief in God- Belief in God is not merely confined to accepting some of His truths.  Belief demands a TOTAL giving, not just checking off some boxes.

Jim McCrea:  Are You Saved Just Because You Are "Good"? by Jim J.  McCrea

Often it is heard that if a person does not believe in Jesus Christ, but is "good," it would be unjust for a good and just God to condemn him to hell.

That on the surface sounds reasonable.  For it seems right that God should allow a person into heaven because he is kind, just, good to others, and civic minded, rather than because he accepted a point of doctrine from a particular religion.

However, to see the fallacy of that, we have to look at exactly what "good" is and its structure within the human soul.

We can use an analogy from the 2009 Star Trek movie.  In that movie, the villain would destroy planets by drilling to their core with a giant ray machine and then dropping a miniature black hole in.  That black hole, at the center of the planet, would within minutes consume the entire planet because the planet would collapse around the black hole into it.

Now lack of Jesus Christ and God's grace in a soul is like a black hole in the center of it.

The idea that God should reward a soul for simply "goodness" presumes that goodness proper to a soul is completely on the natural level and is that which can be empirically perceived.

However, our souls are structured so that they have a God shaped hole within them.  At their depths, if they are what they should be, they have an infinite supernatural good dwelling there.  That infinite supernatural good is Jesus Christ and His grace.  All other levels of goodness in the soul depend upon that infinite good for their proper integrity.

Now to remove that infinite good in the soul, by knowingly and willingly rejecting Christ and His law, the rest of the goodness there does not have a proper foundation.

That is why Catholics who dissent against Church teaching or other Christians who live in a morally compromised way are in grave danger of losing their eternal salvation.  If willfully and knowingly done, there is a black hole at the center of their soul, which is the absence of God's grace (for a Catholic to knowingly and willingly dissent against even one point of Church teaching is to reject Christ as untrustworthy and hence is to reject Him).

Without God's grace, the empirical goods that a person exercises may last most his life, because of the support of society, others around him, and his own psychology.

However, if rejection of God's grace continues, collapse is inevitable, like the planet collapsing into the black hole.  The natural levels of goodness in the soul eventually disintegrate because there is no supernatural core of Jesus Christ to support them.

This can be seen when "good" people, with the onset of death, become vile and abusive (however, we cannot judge the individual case.  Bad behavior with the onset of death may be caused by psychological factors due to a deteriorating brain rather than a deteriorating soul).

Once in hell, all natural goodness disappears, and a person is converted into pure evil.

However, the Good News is, Jesus came to earth to save us sinners (John 3:16).

Unlike the black hole at the center of a planet, where due to the laws of physics collapse in inevitable, we can always reverse course in our life - even at the last moment - to accept Christ and His mercy into our soul - avoiding ultimate collapse, and having that supernatural core of goodness which eventually brings the whole soul to eternal life in God. 

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 30- "Concerning the Supreme Trinity Among the Virtues"

5. The angels know how to speak about love, and even they can only do this according to the degree of their enlightenment.

August 23, 2011

(Mat 24:6-7) And you shall hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that ye be not troubled. For these things must come to pass: but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: And there shall be pestilences and famines and earthquakes in places.

CHIESA: Sunny in Madrid, Stormy in Damascus- In Libya, and even more so in Syria, Christians are afraid that the fall of the regimes will bring them more harm than good

STRATFOR: Israeli-Arab Crisis Approaching

In September, the U.N. General Assembly will vote on whether to recognize Palestine as an independent and sovereign state with full rights in the United Nations. In many ways, this would appear to be a reasonable and logical step. Whatever the Palestinians once were, they are clearly a nation in the simplest and most important sense — namely, they think of themselves as a nation. Nations are created by historical circumstances, and those circumstances have given rise to a Palestinian nation. Under the principle of the United Nations and the theory of the right to national self-determination, which is the moral foundation of the modern theory of nationalism, a nation has a right to a state, and that state has a place in the family of nations. In this sense, the U.N. vote will be unexceptional.

However, when the United Nations votes on Palestinian statehood, it will intersect with other realities and other historical processes. First, it is one thing to declare a Palestinian state; it is quite another thing to create one. The Palestinians are deeply divided between two views of what the Palestinian nation ought to be, a division not easily overcome. Second, this vote will come at a time when two of Israel’s neighbors are coping with their own internal issues. Syria is in chaos, with an extended and significant resistance against the regime having emerged. Meanwhile, Egypt is struggling with internal tension over the fall of President Hosni Mubarak and the future of the military junta that replaced him. Add to this the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the potential rise of Iranian power, and the potential recognition of a Palestinian state — while perfectly logical in an abstract sense — becomes an event that can force a regional crisis in the midst of ongoing regional crises. It thus is a vote that could have significant consequences.

MORE: A primer on Palestinian statehood


Islamist Cleric: Meet an Israeli? Kill Him
Diplomatic woes pile up for isolated Israel
Israel prepares troops for battle with Bibles

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 30- "Concerning the Supreme Trinity Among the Virtues"

4. He who wishes to speak about Divine love undertakes to speak about God. But it is precarious to expatiate on God, and may even be dangerous for the unwary.

August 22, 2011
  (Feast of Queenship of Mary)

(Gal 5:22-23) But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, Mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Against such there is no law.

HUFFINGTON POST: World Youth Day: The Joy of Being In the Presence of God by Michael Rossmann, SJ

Pilgrims will likely not forget hiking with temperatures over 90 degrees in order to encounter the million other people arriving at the same site and looking for a place to sleep, only for their belongings later to be soaked or blown away by the rain and high winds that caused a chapel constructed on the site to collapse.  Still, inclement weather was but a preface to the deeper atmosphere at the conclusion of World Youth Day in Spain.

At the beginning of his homily, Pope Benedict expressed that his heart was full of joy in seeing young people from all ends of the world gathered together - and still gathered together, despite how the weather affected the almost entirely tent-less pilgrims who slept outside the night before.  Many had responded to the storm with even more singing and dancing, and millions of us here in Madrid had tasted a similar joy during this week.

And the joy was contagious.  I previously wrote about the kindness of complete strangers.  After several more days of a million-plus young pilgrims erupting into chants and songs in an array of languages wherever they went, many in Madrid were swept up in the spirit.  It was analogously to the sleeping mat that during last night's storm literally blew into the arms of a student in my group who had failed to bring anything on which to sleep.

While walking to and from the site of the final World Youth Day vigil and Mass, the joyful smiles of gratitude from the previously hot but recently refreshed pilgrims were only surpassed by the residents of third-floor apartments throwing down buckets of water upon us and seemingly having the time of their lives doing it.

An elderly woman, seeing a group of thirteen of us walking back from the site, intuitively asked whether we needed to use a bathroom - exactly the thing we had been searching for without success - and invited all of us up to her apartment to use the restroom and insisted that we also take cold beverages and fruit.  We delighted in her generosity, and she beamed with joy in being able to assist us.

Then, upon reaching the high school at which I'm staying after a long journey back, I could not help but laugh and yet not be surprised at overhearing one U.S.  student who does not speak Spanish recount to his friend how he had gone to a restaurant where a man insisted on buying him a drink.  While the only words that the student could understand were "cerveza" (beer) and "el Papa" (the Pope), he understood the man's desire to welcome and celebrate the presence of the pilgrims here.

The 20th-century Jesuit Pierre Teillhard de Chardin said that "joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God." After seeing the Pope, encountering over a million fellow young people who share their faith, attending liturgical celebrations in various languages with music that moves their hearts, many young people explicitly attest to feeling as if they have been in the presence of God and that they are "rooted in Christ"-- part of the theme of this year's World Youth Day.  All while exuding a contagious joy that can be an indication of that presence.

TEXT: Pope Benedict XVI's WYD closing homily

Javier Lopez Torres: These are some videos from WYD I have just upload in YouTube and I would to share!

The Pope in front of me

Atmosphere in Plaza Colón

At Puerta del Sol with Mexican People

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 30- "Concerning the Supreme Trinity Among the Virtues"

3. The first can make and create all things; the Divine mercy surrounds the second and makes it immune to disappointment; the third does not fall, does not stop in its course and allows no respite to him who is wounded by its blessed madness.

August 19, 2011


(John 16:33) These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you shall have distress. But have confidence. I have overcome the world.

VATICAN RADIO: Pope Benedict XVI to young people: "Know Christ personally as a friend"

I am grateful to Your Majesty for your presence together with the Queen, and for the kind and deferential words with which you welcomed me, reviving in me the unforgettable gestures of kindness which I received during my previous Apostolic Journeys to Spain, and most particularly during my recent Visit to Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona.  I greet very cordially those of you gathered here at Barajas and those of you following this event on radio and television.  A very grateful greeting also goes to those who, with such commitment and dedication, from the ecclesiastical and civil spheres, have contributed with their efforts and work so that this World Youth Day in Madrid might unfold well and bring forth abundant fruits.

With all my heart I also wish to recognize the hospitality so many families, parishes, schools and other institutions which have welcomed young people from all over the world, firstly in various regions and cities of Spain, and now in the great cosmopolitan and welcoming city of Madrid.

I have come here to meet thousands of young people from all over the world, Catholics committed to Christ searching for the truth that will give real meaning to their existence.  I come as the Successor of Peter, to confirm them all in the faith, with days of intense pastoral activity, proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life; to motivate the commitment to build up the Kingdom of God in the world among us; to exhort young people to and so, rooted in his person, to become faithful followers and valiant witnesses.  Why has this multitude of young people come to Madrid?  While they themselves should give the reply, it may be supposed that they wish to hear the word of God, as the motto for this World Youth Day proposed to them, in such a way that, rooted and built upon Christ, they may manifest the strength of their faith.

Many of them have heard the voice of God, perhaps only as a little whisper, which has led them to search for him more diligently and to share with others the experience of the force which he has in their lives.  The discovery of the living God inspires young people and opens their eyes to the challenges of the world in which they live, with its possibilities and limitations.  They see the prevailing superficiality, consumerism and hedonism, the widespread banalization of sexuality, the lack of solidarity, the corruption.  They know that, without God, it would be hard to confront these challenges and to be truly happy, and thus pouring out their enthusiasm in the attainment of an authentic life.  But, with God beside them, they will possess light to walk by and reasons to hope, unrestrained before their highest ideals, which will motivate their generous commitment to build a society where human dignity and true brotherhood are respected.  Here on this Day, they have a special opportunity to gather together their aspirations, to share the richness of their cultures and experiences, motivate each other along a journey of faith and life, in which some think they are alone or ignored in their daily existence.  But they are not alone.  Many people of the same age have the same aspirations and, entrusting themselves completely to Christ, know that they really have a future before them and are not afraid of the decisive commitments which fulfill their entire lives.  That is why it gives me great joy to listen to them, pray with them and celebrate the Eucharist with them.  World Youth Day brings us a message of hope like a pure and youthful breeze, with rejuvenating scents which fill us with confidence before the future of the Church and the world.

Of course, there is no lack of difficulties.  There are tensions and ongoing conflicts all over the world, even to the shedding of blood.  Justice and the unique value of the human person are easily surrendered to selfish, material and ideological interests.  Nature and the environment, created by God with so much love, are not respected.  Moreover, many young people look worriedly to the future, as they search for work, or because they have lost their job or because the one they have is precarious or uncertain.  There are others who need help either to avoid drugs or to recover from their use.  There are even some who, because of their faith in Christ, suffer discrimination which leads to contempt and persecution, open or hidden, which they endure in various regions and countries.  They are harassed to give him up, depriving them of the signs of his presence in public life, not allowing even the mention of his holy name.  But, with all my heart, I say again to you young people: let nothing and no one take away your peace; do not be ashamed of the Lord.  He did not spare himself in becoming one like us and in experiencing our anguish so as to lift it up to God, and in this way he saved us.

In this regard, the young followers of Jesus must be aided to remain firm in the faith and to embrace the beautiful adventure of proclaiming it and witnessing to it openly with their lives.  A witness that is courageous and full of love for their brothers and sisters, resolute and at the same time prudent, without hiding its Christian identity, living together with other legitimate choices in a spirit of respect while at the same time demanding due respect for one's own choices.

MORE: Pope denounces profit-at-all mentality behind economic crisis hitting Europe

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 30- "Concerning the Supreme Trinity Among the Virtues"

2. And (as far as I can make out) I see the one as a ray, the second as a light, the third as an orb; and in all, one radiance and one splendour.

August 18, 2011

(Amo 8:11-12) Behold the days come, saith the Lord, and I will send forth a famine into the land: not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing the word of the Lord. And they shall move from sea to sea, and from the north to the east: they shall go about seeking the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.

EXCERPT OPINION: Relentless attack on faith and religion

World Youth Day takes place in Madrid this week.  It is estimated that over a million people will attend, all young people, somehow captured by the mystery of divine, and drawn towards Christ through their faith.  Here, they publicly celebrate their Catholicism, their belonging to the Catholic Church.  Here they share and live out their faith, in the midst of like-minded individuals.

It's a wonderful opportunity for them to have a positive experience of Church, where the truth and the goodness of the Gospel message is proclaimed and honoured.  World Youth Day is akin to an oasis where people can be themselves, practising religious freedom, something they can't easily do at home.

Why?  Because there is a relentless attack on faith, on religion, on the church, on people who believe.  Day after day, the negative publicity and the attacks and the awful modern-day persecution of Christians is harder and harder to withstand.  And so it's absolutely fantastic that these young people are given the opportunities that World Youth Day provides.

When Enda Kenny made his now famous 'attack' on the pope, the Vatican and the Church, I'm sure he didn't mean to disenfranchise every catholic in Ireland.  After all, as the leader of a people, the majority of which profess to be catholic, it would have been a pretty calamitous move.  Especially for a politician, who must echo the wishes of the people he represents and leads.

And yet, somehow, many ordinary Catholics did feel shame and embarrassment that the Taoiseach would make such a strong attack on something they believe in, and in attacking it, they felt he was also attacking them, even though they share no blame for the awful atrocities perpetrated by some of their members.

Of course, ordinary Catholics, including as Enda Kenny rightly pointed out, ' good priests, some of them old, others struggling to keep their humanity, even their sanity, as they work so hard, to be the keepers of the Church's light and goodness within their parishes, communities and the human heart' are well aware of the failings of the Church in the past.

They are ashamed of that too, and indeed angry that it happened at all.  But they still believe in their faith, and wish to practice it.  More and more nowadays Catholics are feeling it harder to justify their faith, and to engage in it, because they are afraid of being tarred with the same brush, so to speak.

And maybe that brings about a whole other consideration.Can we in Ireland survive the absence of church; a concept, as John Waters puts it, "driven by the secular-agnosticism or secular-atheism of some of our most vocal exponents of the defeat of Catholicism, the greatest enemy?"

MORE FROM IRELAND: Dublin church close to 'financial collapse'

Anne Lastman (  I read with interest your email Tribulation Times (Mark Mallett Landslide).  As I read this current one, I can see what you say and the prophetic voices around the world.  I particularly find it interesting that God is blamed for catastrophes, illnesses, pain suffering and anarchy, but if humanity doesn’t believe in God, well how can they blame Him for the events?  It doesn’t make sense.  It’s the confusion created by the father of lies himself.

There is a very important scripture in Old Testament Amos 8:11 (cited above). I think we are living these days, a famine for hearing the word of Yahweh and if this is so it is a punishment for loss of faith and loss of love.  I think the worst thing that God can do is to leave us to our own devices and being left to our own devices we cannot hear “The Word and are starved for The Word,” hence the famine.

Whenever I see an image of the famine raging in Africa, and see the skeletal images of human beings starving I am reminded of this word, it is visible prophecy.  We can see when we are not “fed” how awful are the ravages of famine.  In our day we see the behaviours around the world not only of the young going on rampage (primitive mentality-pack mentality) but on other issues which should have separated us from the beastly creation but at times seem not to.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 30- "Concerning the Supreme Trinity Among the Virtues"

1. And now, finally, after all that we have said, there remain these three that bind and secure the union of all: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love, for God Himself is so called (1 John 4: 8, 16).

August 17, 2011

(John 15:18-20)  If the world hate you, know ye that it hath hated me before you. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember my word that I said to you: The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they have kept my word, they will keep yours also.

ACN: Spain: World Youth Day exhibition highlights Christian persecution

The persecution of Christians is being highlighted by an exhibition which has been organised as part of World Youth Day 2011's cultural programme.

The photographic and multimedia exhibition, Persecuted Christians Today, takes place in the Royal Church of Jerome Saint in Madrid from the 15th – 21st August – but a special preview was held on Friday 12th August.

The exhibition has been organised by the international Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need.

Javier Fariñas, Head of Communications for ACN (Spain), said: "Many people are surprised to find that freely living one's faith is still an offence in many countries. "We are challenged by the incredible testimony of people who continue living in their country, in their home, despite hostility, violence, discrimination, ridicule or mockery – despite everything they have to endure – because of their Christian faith. "What would I do if I lived under the same conditions as them?"

The ACN exhibition tells the story of 15 martyrs from the last 50 years and describes three examples of persecution which have attracted attention in the wider media. The anti-Christian attacks took place in Gojra in Pakistan, India's Orissa State and Tibhirine in Algeria. The exhibition also features short audio-visual presentations on Nigeria, China, Sudan, Cuba and Iraq.

Visitors are also encouraged to pray for persecuted Christians.

ACN's Amparo Llobet, who organised the exhibition, said: "Prayer is one of our pillars, we want to transmit to the young people the necessity of interceding for the rest of the Church." She added: "What we want is to enter into dialogue with the young people so that they know us and that they know what Aid to the Church in Need is and the various ways they can help the Church throughout the world. "We want to sensitise them, to awake their conscience and help them engage with the issues of religious liberty and the persecution of the Church."

HEADLINE: Is this the time of religious persecution?

US experts call Europe the leader in growing hostility towards religion. It is a paradox that in spite of its Christian roots the Old World persecutes Christianity more than any other region. All in all, Christians are persecuted in 130 countries, especially in the Middle and the Near East where clashes between Christians and Muslims occur regularly. Thus, several months ago a domestic quarrel resulted in the burning of a Christian church in Egyptian Alexandria, which entailed a series of armed conflicts in other places. The same situation can be seen in Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan. In primordially Christian countries persecutions of Christians are provoked by authorities, like in Kosovo.

CNA: Iraqi Christians worry after car bomb hits third Kirkuk church

The Arab Spring and Middle East Christians

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 29- "Concerning Heaven on Earth"

12. But why say more? The dispassionate man no longer lives himself, but Christ lives in him (Gal. 2:20), as he says who fought the good fight, finished his course and kept the Faith (2 Tim. 4:7).

August 15, 2011 

(Rev 12:17) And the dragon was angry against the woman: and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

LINK: Pastoral Letter by H.L. Mons. Mario Grech, Bishop of Gozo, on the occasion of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary 2011

VIA MANILLA: Feast of the Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary

The assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of the most popular feasts in the Catholic Church worldwide.  In many Catholic countries in Europe, this feast is a holy day of obligation.

The feast is based on a belief of the early Church that since Mary was sinless, she was rewarded by the Lord with assumption to heaven body and soul.

This belief was formalized into a doctrine on November 1, 1950, by Pope Pius XII who, in a decree, declared: "We pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma that the immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul to heavenly glory."

Although there is no scriptural basis for this belief, the Church believes, that through Mary's obedience and fidelity to the will of God, she was rewarded with this special privilege of being united with God in such a special way.

Reflecting on the Assumption of Mary, one will be led to reflect on the life and works of Mary, our mother and model, especially on her "fiat" to God and her service to her fellowmen.  While it is true that she was glorified by God, her glorification only reflects the original glory that belongs only to God.

Her solidarity with the poor is in fact reflective of God's love and concern for them.  Indeed, Mary's Magnificat becomes a reality in her life through her witnessing to the values of the Kingdom.

As we celebrate Monday her feast, we call to mind the words of the Second Vatican Council: "In the bodily and spiritual glory which she possesses in heaven, the Mother of Jesus continues in this present world as the image and first flowering of the Church as she is to be perfected in the world to come.

Likewise, Mary shines forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come (cf.  2 Peter 3:10), as a sign of certain hope and comfort for the pilgrim People of God" (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 68).

The Assumption of Mary gives us hope that one day, we, too, shall enjoy the glory of God in heaven.  May Mary continue to guide us in this journey of faith and life.  May she show us the true path that will lead us to God our loving Father.  Amen.

MORE: One might ask, "What difference does it make to me if Mary is in heaven body and soul or not? What relevance does it have to my life?"

Some people claim that "life is meaningless"; others live by the philosophy: "Eat and be merry for tomorrow you die." But God gives us a clear and ringing answer to the contrary.

The Assumption of Mary reminds us that our final destiny is not in this world but in heaven and that, like Mary, we will achieve this heavenly home if we are steadfast and faithful in fulfilling our mission and responsibilities on earth.

* * *
FULL SALVATION. Mary's Assumption is telling us, too, that we are redeemed as complete beings, meaning, not only our souls, but also our bodies. This is full salvation.

There has been too much preaching about "saving our souls." Religion has become too "spiritual." But Christ did not come to save souls only; he came to save the whole man composed of body and soul.

Now if our body will be glorified, would you use it recklessly by indulging in excessive drinking of alcohol or taking dangerous drugs? Would you do harm or take your own life or that of other people? Just think of the senseless killings like the Maguindanao massacre, tortures, hold-ups with murder. 

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 29- "Concerning Heaven on Earth"

9. That soul has dispassion which is immersed in the virtues as the passionate are in pleasures.
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